Life here moves with the rhythm of the rivers. Slow travel your way along the Murray, getting to know this veritable life source of the southern states, the communities that live here and their (oft-edible) crafts. In partnership with Visit Victoria, here’s our guide on where to eat, drink and stay.
Sitting at the intersection of the Murray and Campaspe rivers, Echuca means the “meeting of the waters” in the local Yorta Yorta language. And it’s a twin town, with Moama across the border in New South Wales.
Life in the two town centres around Dhungalla – “the great water”, as the Murray River is known on Yorta Yorta Country. Trails lined with biyala (river red gums) weave visitors along the riverbank to the heritage-listed wharf. Here, you can learn about the history of the town, set off on a leisurely cruise, or make your way to one of the many river beaches for a swim.
From Melbourne, it’s a three-hour drive north. In partnership with Visit Victoria, here’s our guide on what to do and where to eat, drink and stay at this bend in the river.
Welcome to Echuca and Moama
Vibrant vegan eats and generous Greek fare join a smattering of restaurants celebrating the region’s finest produce.
This busy river port was once populated by 100-odd pubs. While just a few are still standing, there’s now local wine, coffee, gin and agave to supplement the offerings.
Learn the history of the old port while paddling or cruising along the river. There are Yorta Yorta artefacts to appreciate here, too.
Echuca Moama Stand Up Paddle
Even if you’ve never tried your hand (or balance) at SUP-ing, owner Jess Nelson’s encouraging instructional style will have you firm-footed in no time. Paddle along the Murray River, taking in the paddle-steamers and old port sights as you drift along. You can pause for a swim at Moama Beach, or stay dry atop your board. The team from Echuca Moama Stand Up Paddle will shuttle you upstream from the town centre so you can glide down with the current. It takes about 75 minutes to travel the four-kilometre stretch.
Port of Echuca Discovery Centre
This cluster of buildings on Murray Esplanade gives visitors a glimpse into what life was like here in the 1870s. Red gum timber was the main industry – it was used to power the paddle-steamers that travelled the inland river system, and to build bridges, railways and buildings. The original sawmill has been restored into a working exhibit, alongside pumps and steam engines, offering insights into these historic technologies. The old cargo shed has been transformed into a space for kids to don costumes and play games that explore the history of Echuca and its port. Entry is free.
PS Emmylou Cruise
Cruise along the Murray River at a relaxed pace, spending two to six nights aboard PS Emmylou. The woodfired paddle-steamer was built between 1980 and 1982 in the 19th-century style, and is powered by a restored 1906 steam engine. By day, take guided nature walks, visit wineries and relax on the deck with a good book. By night, enjoy long table dinners on the riverbank as the sun sets, followed by a campfire under a starry sky, before retiring to your air-conditioned cabin with a private ensuite.
Barmah National Park
Roughly 30 minutes’ drive from Echuca-Moama, but still straddling the border, is Barmah National Park. The Barmah-Millewa forest is the largest river red gum forest in the world, with some trees over 400 years old. It’s also a Ramsar site (a wetland of international importance). The wetlands are home to about 220 species of native birds, including a number that migrate between here and Japan or China. Starting from the Dharnya Centre, there are three walks you can trace, including a four-kilometre, 1.75-hour loop that takes you past the Murray River and Barmah Lake. Spot bigarrumdja (emu) and gaiyimarr (kangaroo), along with Yorta Yorta cultural sites including middens, mounds and scar trees.
From family-friendly villas to suites in a converted pub and glamping for two, riverside accommodation here comes in all shapes and sizes.
24 hours in River Country
Embark on a nature-filled weekend across the twin towns of Echuca and Moama. Life here centres around the rivers. Eat every meal with a water view, or paddle and swim for full immersion.
The Sweet Meadow
(03) 5482 4099
Fuel up for the morning with vibrant, healthful eats at this plant-based cafe. There are smoothie bowls, pancakes and seasonal oats for the sweet of tooth. Those with savoury appetites should beeline for the crispy gyoza or fancy hash browns.